The Democratic challenger, locked in a neck-and-neck race, as of this writing, with conservative icon, U. S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is running a well-oiled, financially at least, campaign largely driven by contributions from employees of the University of Texas. “O’Rourke has raised over $23 million so far, all from small donors and a lot it from out of state,” Peter Hamby wrote in the August 29, 2018 issue of Vanity Fair.
According to Open Secrets.org, in the 2017-2018 school year, people from the University of Texas gave $83,368 to Republicans and $1,016,231 to Democrats. Of that million plus, about a third went to O’Rourke.
Open Secrets lists the University of Texas as O’Rourke’s top contributor at $365,312. Interestingly, UT is not the only institution of higher learning that makes the three-term U. S. congressman’s list of high dollar donors.
Also getting honorable mention on Open Secrets:
• University of California–$131,404
• Baylor College of Medicine–$103,268
• Rice University–$73,022
• Texas A & M–$67,053
All told, these colleges and universities gave O’Rourke more than three-quarters of a million dollars. It’s interesting that the University of California beats out four Texas schools for the chance to bankroll Beto.
In many ways, O’Rourke is a dream candidate for academics, particularly on education.
Here are his stated positions:
• “No public tax dollars should be given to private schools.
• “Increase public funding for low income and underserved communities.
• “Public school teachers should have their retirements protected by ensuring that we do away with the Windfall Elimination Provision.
• “We should continue to take steps towards moving control to the classroom and empowering teachers to fulfill their calling by having autonomy to teach their students and reduce the emphasis on arbitrary, high-stakes tests.
• “Strike down toxic legislation like Senate Bill 6 and any regulation that discriminates against a student based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
It’s nearly impossible to find a position on which O’Rourke is not markedly left-of-center, which also makes him academe’s ideal senator. For example, the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood both give him a 100 percent rating while the National Right to Life Committee gives him a zero. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) also gives him a goose egg.
It looks like pedagogues in Texas finally found a candidate for public office who is as ideologically compatible with them as they expect a candidate for a faculty position to be. Political Science professor Michael Munger, who teaches at Duke, noted in 2004 that his department’s 25% Republican ratio represents the greatest political balance he has known in more than a decade of teaching at the college level. Munger previously taught at Dartmouth, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He also claimed that UT-Austin’s biggest problem is that it wants to be Dartmouth.